How to choose a robot lawnmower
Why go to all the trouble of pushing a lawnmower around your lawn when you can have a ‘robot’ do it for you?
For some, mowing a lawn is a satisfying exercise, an excuse to get out there and keep an eye on all of your garden, not just the lawn. For others it’s a tiring, mucky chore that they’d gladly wish away. You know into which camp you fall!
Robot lawnmowers – lawnmowers that combine a motorised drive system, cutting blades and a brain to keep it all on the right track – have come on leaps and bounds in the past few years. A modern mower allows you to live the dream, autonomously mowing your grass to a schedule, avoiding obstacles, detecting edges and will even plug itself in to recharge when exhausted.
And, because robot lawnmowers are effectively mulching lawnmowers – with no grass storage – you don’t even have to collect and dispose of the clippings. They work by making fine cuts to shorter grass. I.e. Rather than cutting when the grass is long, a robot mower cuts less actual grass… but does it much more often. The result is a lawn that’s – basically – always picture perfect.
Features to look out for when choosing a robot mower
Your first consideration is the size and shape of your lawn. In brief, the flatter, more regular and smaller your lawn, the more a robot mower will be a perfect fit. As ever with tech, test it too far and you’re inviting disappointment. We’ve seen huge lawns mowed by ‘teams’ of two or three robot mowers just to make sure the job is done right!
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The fact is that large areas require more time and power to mow. It may be that a small model simply isn’t up to your lawn so be sure to check its range and capacity – how many square metres can it do before a recharge? Get out there with a tape measure and learn just how much lawn needs cutting.
Also slopes and inclines – and wet slippery surfaces – can cause some smaller mowers problems. Larger wheels and tracks can help here. So make a note of the degrees angle that each mower can cope with and bear that in mind for your garden.
Also shaped lawns require some clever thinking on the part of the mower itself so you may wind up with some missed bits without careful planning. Advanced mapping features of some mowers make them smarter than others and most now use a mobile phone app to give you precise control of when and how it goes about its business.
There are even models equipped with GPS allowing them to genuinely learn your lawn, while most use a simple perimeter wire fencing (supplied in the box) which will require careful installation but will ensure that your new mower is cutting the grass rather than your begonias.
Some even allow Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri (Apple HomeKit) control so getting your lawn cut is now a barked instruction from your armchair.
Our selection below have all done their best to thwart the problems above and we’re certain there’s something tailor-made and – let’s face it – just that little bit incredible, delightful and entertaining for you on our list.
The best robot lawnmowers in 2022
Flymo EasiLife 500 GO
The Flymo is the Amazon number one best-seller and – coming from Flymo, who’ve more than a little expertise in grass cutting innovation – that’s hardly a surprise.
Flymo describe it as being suitable for ‘medium’ gardens with a cutting capacity of 500m2. That converts to a lawn that’s 90 x 60 feet so a pretty sizey bit of turf and no mean feat for a machine that Flymo say is their most compact model yet.
There are simple buttons on the top surface to allow you to start, stop and program timing, or if you want finer, more visual control go to the Flymo app which will pass on your instructions to your mower wirelessly over bluetooth.
There’s tilt, lift and collision sensors for safety – it cleverly detects the edges of your lawn to avoid running off piste – and a big ‘stop’ button on the top should you quickly need some manual control.
It can cope with 25 degree inclines and when it needs charging it’ll automatically drive off to its lawn-side dock and power up.
Like all robot mowers it's a mulching mower – so there’s no grass collection to take care of – and you can even safely hose it down to keep it looking pristine.
WORX WR141E M500 Landroid Robotic Mower
WORX are an award-winning brand that puts design at the forefront of all their power tools, and this low-profile chunky mower is no exception.
Their Landroid comes in a number of different configurations that add extra power and range, the M500 will cover 500m2 while the L2000 will mow an incredible 2000m2. Don’t need all that range? Save cash with the smaller S300 (300m2) model.
Worth noting that only the larger models feature Worx ‘Cut To Edge’ capabilities, featuring a blade that runs right to the edge of the machine meaning that the machine can cut right to the boundary wire so there’s no missed edges to manually take care of after a cut.
Boundary wire? Yes, there’s 130m of wire included in the box with the M500 (more and less for the bigger and smaller models).
The Landroid is a little bit ‘next level’ when it comes to smarts too, featuring an on-board processor that connects to ‘cloud computing’ to better learn and calculate your lawn (and where it’s been) each time meaning less aimless pootling around and more methodical, energy saving grass cutting.
It even gets weather updates from the internet so it knows not to head out while it’s raining. No joke.
There’s even a module connection port for adding extra features to your Landroid, such as the ability to – literally – see obstacles and drive around them (rather than bumping into them and attempting to navigate past) and a Find My attachment that maps its position so you can find it again should one of your neighbours take a shine to it…
Gardena Sileno Life
Gardena are old pros when it comes to gardening hardware and their take on the robot mower aims to go one further in every regard.
First of all there’s that range of 1000m2 on their top-of-the-range model – that’s bigger than a 100ft x 100ft lawn – and a low profile, powerful motors and large wheels that mean that it’s good for inclines of up to 35degrees.
Unlike the WORX model above the Sileno is completely waterproof and so doesn’t shy away from the rain, offering to cut your grass even in a downpour, and can be simply hosed down to stay looking sparkling.
The Sileno prides itself on its ability to work in tight spaces with accurate manoeuvring meaning that intricately designed and shaped lawns can be recognised, understood and navigated including confined pathways down to 60cm in width.
Of course there’s a bluetooth app for controlling and programming your perfect mowing schedule and – the clue is in the name – the Sileno is one of the quietest mowers around. The best-in-class 58db level is little more than a desktop fan-like whir, meaning that you can even have it go out at night in the pitch black and work its magic so it’s neatly stowed out of the way all day.
Lawnmaster L10 Robot Lawnmower
If you’re looking for something with a keen price and a range that’s ‘typical back garden’ rather than 'Hyde Park' then the L10 is well worth a look. And with a 400m2 range it’s certainly no slouch.
It’s a powerful but simple affair with easy-to-use controls under its weatherproof top flap and no app, bluetooth or configuring to mess about with. Simply program the mower right there on its buttons and let it go to work.
And to prevent children (or jealous neighbours) attempting to hijack your Lawnmaster and type in their own nefarious commands, a simple PIN number means that only its true master gets to boss it about.
It’s all foolproof and simple as the Lawnmaster works its way around the area confined in its boundary wire. Simply peg it out and forget about it. The L10 finds the boundary and makes sure that every bit of grass within it gets the chop.
While it is IPX5 waterproof, thanks to its weather sensor it’s programmed to return to its charging dock and sit out heavy rain. Smart move.
Husqvarna Automower 405X
- Buy now from Sam Turner (£1699.00)
Another garden kit company that really know their stuff are Husqvarna. Their Automower 405X is only one of two models here that feature GPS, allowing your mower to truly know where it is and thereby waste less time and energy hunting out fresh turf.
It’s on board data connection means that it will receive updates ‘over the air’ automagically to keep its navigation software bang up to date, and its Weather Timer sensor adjusts its mowing intervals according to the weather and the growth of the lawn. The 405X will then increase its mowing time when the grass is growing fast and wind it back when the weather is sunny or dry.
It all adds up to less time being disturbed by a robot whizzing around on your lawn, and more time admiring the result of its efforts.
The 405X learns the position of narrow pathways and features and after finding them – and perhaps making it’s first ‘mistake’ – will never make the same error again. If only we were all equally attuned…
This powerful package is perfectly topped off with a range of 600m2, the ability to cope with 20 degree slopes and – brace yourself – it’s even got headlights. Impressive.
Yard Force Compact 400Ri
The Yard Force Compact 400Ri prides itself on the most advanced collision detection around, with ultrasonic iRadar sensors as standard (rather than an option or add-on) that will detect and avoid obstacles rather than bump into them and make an escape or – worse – steam-roller over anything flat enough to climb over.
If you’ve got pets that love to lie on your lawn then the 400Ri is your tortoise’s new best friend.
There’s full control right on the unit itself and the obligatory app will give you fine control of features such as timing and regularity of the cuts. You can even start a mow remotely from anywhere in the world… Should you wish to.
There’s no quoted mention of its noise levels in db but the makers claim that the level of ‘silence’ is sufficient to send the 400Ri into duty at the dead of night without your neighbours thinking you’re mowing your lawn by torchlight.
The built-in battery charges via the supplied dock – which the device automatically returns to in the wet, thanks to its weather sensor – and there’s 100m (and 120 pegs) of boundary wire to mark out your lawn in the pack.
Bosch Indego S+ 500
As you’d expect, the garden gear masters at Bosch have got their take on robot mowers and Bosch’s angle comes in four flavours, all under the Indego product branding in 300, 500, 500+ and 700 forms. The numbers correspond to the m2 capacity/range of each mower with the 500+ being actually the most accomplished model technically.
The Bosch Indego S+ 500 has the same 500m2 range of the S500 but adds app control for programming a schedule, Alexa and Google Assistant control, and a weather analysis feature, pulled from the internet via its own (free) cellular data connection, that looks at live weather data and works out the perfect schedule for your next cut.
Worth saying that all the Indegos have a large display and plenty of buttons to make programming and finding out just what it’s up to very easy with or without the app.
Most interestingly the Indegos have a feature Bosch called LogiCut which the makers claim sends the machine in neat parallel lines to achieve its tasks rather than the more haphazard ‘keep going until every bit has been touched’ used by every other mower.
The result is that the Indego gets the job done – and gets off your lawn – faster than less intelligent models.
It can negotiate pathways (between guide cables) as narrow as 75cm so setting out a pathway for it to travel from one lawn to another is possible, Plus it’s nice and quiet at 63db output.
Ambrogio L200i Elite
- Buy now from John Lewis (£2599.00)
You might not be instantly familiar with the brand, but Ambrogio have been working hard building a reputation as THE made-in-Italy, top-of-the-line robot mower company.
There are models for small gardens and medium gardens, each enjoying all the advanced features of similar models from other manufacturers, but – as a demonstration of just how far the robot mowing game has come – we’re plumping for their ‘Pro’ line and their L250i Elite.
Remarkable in many ways, the Elite is an amazing piece of kit. First of all there’s that range – an unbelievable 3200m2, more than tripling the maximum of any other model on show here. This is obtained via a surprisingly large 7.5Ah battery. For comparison the base model Tesla Model 3 car has a 161Ah battery…
Its smart sensors are able to detect if it’s running on grass that’s been cut or not, meaning that it can skip time, effort and wear and tear as it patrols searching for longer grass. And when it finds it will then attack the offending area, mowing in a spiral until it knows that it’s in the clear.
Furthermore it uses GPS to know its position, map your garden and learn its shapes and quirks. No boundary wire and random whizzing about here. And – given its price tag – there’s the added bonus of a geo-fenced anti-theft alarm should it wander too far…
Its huge, tractor-like wheels mean that it can work on an incredible 45 degree incline, there’s an app AND an onboard touchscreen for programming and – finally – let’s acknowledge those looks.
Each of Ambrogio’s models has unmistakable ‘Italian styling’ but the L200i tops the lot with its gorgeous, retro, tractor-like looks that mean business.
Find more fun gadgets in our guide to the best smart garden products, from robot weeders to outdoor TVs.
Daniel Griffiths is a veteran journalist who has worked on some of the biggest home and entertainment brands in the world. He is a serial house-renovator and home improvement expert, taking on everything from interior design and DIY to landscape gardening and garden design.
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